Super Best Audio Friends
The evolution of the original irreverent and irrelevant and non-authoritative site for headphone measurements, i.e. frequency response graphs, CSD waterfall plots, subjective gear reviews. Too objective for subjectivists; too subjective for objectivists
Let's start with simple frequency response. Note that the sharp narrow dips in the lower treble and high treble are measurement artifacts (to be confirmed in CSDs in later post.) The Flat Plate Coupler was used here to get the most consistent relative results...
The headamps I compared were: Muffsy MC Head Amp (DIY kit), Lounge Audio Copla, Hagerman Audio Labs Piccolo2, Audio Design MCP-1, Musical Fidelity AC-1, Music Reference RM-4. The first three are current production amps (the Muffsy is a kit), the last three are out of production but are still well considered and available (occasionally) on the used market. Why this comparison and these specific headamps?
Will follow up with more tomorrow. This headphone also has slanted drivers like the HD560S reviewed here: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...560s-review-the-new-standard-not.10040/page-2
The PC37X is in the same class as the HD560S, HD558, HD598 with respect to technicalities (distortion, resolution, etc.) With the slanted drivers like the HD560S, I actually feel the PC37X is the better headphone because the tonality is better. The price is also $80 less. The HD560S does have better bass extension, but it's also brighter, unbearingly so with with its upper mid / lower treble bump.
Koss PortaPro (left): mfr specs 60 Ohm, 101 dB @ 1mW; familiar to many here. See some discussion here, @Bill-P 's mods and some more discussion here, and @ultrabike 's measurements of a possible fake here. Currently $42 at Amazon US for this grey/blue version.
Sennheiser PX100-II (middle): 32 Ohm, 114 dB (/V?); second version of a design that’s been around a while. Currently $70 at Amazon for the plain-wire version; also available with inline mic/remote.
AKG K-403 (right): 32 Ohm, 118dB/V; discontinued but available from marketplace sellers via Amazon from $34. Semi-open design, bigger drivers (~40 mm) than the other two.
Each of these fold up for transport. The PortaPros have a hook and complementary slot built into the headband to keep them secure, and the K403s have the two-way pivoting-pad design shared by many AKGs. The headband on the PX100-II is in one piece with two pleather pads, whereas the other models have a two-piece sliding arrangement with the K403 having a foam pad under each slider bracket. The Senn is the most comfortable but the AKG feels the most secure on the head thanks partly to the bigger pads/drivers.
Tonality aside, technically the IE900 is extremely capable. The bass sounds first rate to my ears. There's plenty of it and I found it to be clear, plenty textured, and decently fast. This has to be the best bass in an IEM I've heard in a long while. Could the bass be almost as good as the Sony EX1000? Maybe. It's been a time since I've heard the EX1000 and would be curious to know @Kunlun's thoughts as this could be nostalgia on my part.
Being a limited edition model, the MW10 received its own gorgeous blue color called Strato Blue. The faceplates screws are 24-karate gold-plated and the CA logo is an Avalon inlay, which shows different colors depending on the angle viewed. It really is, arguably, the most beautiful of the Andromeda variants.
And I've finally gotten to this months after the fact. Thank you for your patience. The move from CA to TX was big and it took me months to move into a new place and get my measurement gear set up again. Anyway, not only are these IEMs neutralish, but also quite good sounding. Technically much better than their $40 price. The downsides are their rather non-impressive (but waterproof) construction and less than stellar channel matching. However from a clarity point of view, these are very good, better than some IEMs costing thousands and thousands of dollars.
The lower to middle midrange sounds flat to my ears. The lows do sound slightly elevated. Bass texture is surprisingly evident. There isn't much pinna gain built-in, which is fine by me. On the other hand, the 2-3kHz region isn't depressed either. There is a dip around 5kHz (subjective and objective) that takes the edge off of snare drums and bite out of trumpets. The lower and mid treble are about right, but high treble, last octave air is missing. I really cannot complain for $40. Besides many single driver DD IEMs, even some high-end ones, lack air as well.
Being an entry level headphone, the HE400se isn't what I would call super resolving. There's a bit of macro-detail, increased definition, maybe even "fake" detail or sharpening effect because of the mid-treble 10kHz peak (similar to the HE5XX). The transients are not as zippy or tight as high-end planars. The headstage in nothing spectacular. It's close, compact, but with decent width. The bass extends well, with a shallow slope down toward 20Hz instead of suddenly taking a sudden dump like many open back dynamic headphones.
Bass on the RSV is slightly more elevated in deep and sub bass over the Blessing 2. The amount isn’t all that large but it lends to a more natural and palpable bass, despite the fact the RSV is armature bass. In fact, I’d say the RSV bass also presents better texturing down low, as the Blessing 2, while dynamic driver based, has bit of an overdamped, muted texture. Listening to electronic music or double bass metal, the RSV is able to deliver a more engaging and dynamic rumble.
Here is a photo of of the earcup, swivel mechanism, and part of the headband. The construction is cheap but serviceable. I have no idea of the robustness of the design, only time will tell. For $40, that's what we are gonna get through. I was able to get my ears just into the cups. My ears touch a bit so it's slightly uncomfortable, but not overbearingly so. Those with larger ears should definitely skip this model. It looks look like Turtle Beach has won the race to the bottom. I thought they were supposed to be a high-end brand, but that was 25 years ago.
The VxV (or 5x5), coming in at a price tag of $999, is one of the cheaper models in the FiR lineup and was recently on Drop for $799. It looks like the VxV is the only one in the lineup that only comes as a universal. Apparently it is a limited run but I’m unsure of the number of units that will be made. The VxV consists of a 6.8mm dynamic driver and 4 balanced armatures: 2 for midrange, 1 for treble and 1 for super-high frequencies. The VxV is equipped with a pressure releasing vent system. Rather than being placed on the faceplate, its tucked away under the cable connector near the top of the housing. As far as I know, these aren’t user replaceable like the larger faceplate mounted options in 64 Audio in-ears. The 2 treble armatures are spoutless and I assume are positioned inside the housing bore, as described on FiR’s TECH page: https://www.firaudio.com/tech.